Federal Council rejects bid to adjust NIR restrictions

24 Apr 2020

Switzerland’s Federal Council has decided not to amend the current restrictions on non-ionising radiation (NIR) emissions, which are hindering cellcos from deploying widespread 5G networks. In a statement, the cabinet acknowledged the potential role that 5G could play in digitisation, but noted that the expansion of 5G networks raised concerns amongst the population. In order to move forward, the Council decision ruled that the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) to develop an enforcement aid for the handling of new ‘adaptive antennas’, which have been seen as a potential workaround. According to the DETEC, adaptive antennas – or beamforming antennas – focus their radiation in the direction of individual users, so exposure to users is greater, but emissions in other directions around the site are reduced. To ensure transparency on how much the population is exposed to adaptive antennas the DETEC must carry out test measurements and develop its enforcement aid based on those results.

In addition, the Council ruled that all six additional measures recommended by the Mobile Communications and Radiation working group’s report in November 2019 would be implemented. The six measures cover:

· Simplification and harmonisation in enforcement

· monitoring of exposure and health effects

· information and awareness-raising amongst the population

· funding of research in the field of mobile communications and health

· the development of an environmental medicine and NIR advice centre

· and the creation of an exchange platform, dubbed ‘Mobile Communications of the Future’, for federal, cantonal and municipal authorities, industry stakeholders, medical professionals and others to share information.